Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Guilt Trip + Cuteness = Marshmallow Mom

Herb often teases me that I’m a complete pushover when it comes to Ryan, and that’s probably somewhat true, even though I try to be hardnosed when necessary. But how can any mother not succumb to the combination of cuteness and guilt? And Ryan has certainly mastered both.

Just a short while ago I was putting Ryan down for his nap and he wasn’t really ready to go, and as I headed out of the room and told him, “Have a good nap, I love you,” and blew him a kiss, he said through his snurfling and tears, “Buh-bye!” and gave me a pathetic little wave. Now, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t deliberate emotional manipulation, but between the laughter and the guilt, it was all I could do not to run back into the room and sweep him up in a big hug, because I am, admittedly, a marshmallow.

I often refer to him affectionately as my “drama llama” because he’s so good at turning on the waterworks at a moment’s notice. When he wants me to take him out of the playpen, he never just reaches up his arms, he reaches up his arms and gives me the most pathetic pout and/or wail that has ever been seen or heard. That sad little face breaks my heart, just as it’s intended to. Those beautiful big eyes welling up, the chubby pink cheeks streaked with tears, the rosebud lips turned down into a wounded pout…that’s an arsenal that no mother can resist. I know he’ll be just fine if I say no, but then I’ll have to deal with the image of that tragic face burned into my brain, along with the corresponding guilt that I caused that “tragedy”. The fact that five seconds from now he’ll be distracted and happy and the tears and pout will have vanished is of absolutely no account.

Above and beyond the guilt trip, though, the adorableness factor definitely comes into play. A pouting child can be extremely unattractive when said child is sour and self-centered, but Ryan has such a sweet nature that even when his pout is a bit selfish it’s still rather endearing. Knowing that his sweet dimpled smile is hiding underneath the sad expression is that much more of an inducement to try to bring the smile back into view. And of course, the fact that even when he’s angry and pushes me away, two seconds later he’s grabbing me around the neck so tightly that I can hardly breathe is in his favor. He’s becoming so affectionate with people that he knows, especially Mummy and Daddy, that I can hardly bear to give him any reason not to show that affection.

Fortunately, I have known enough spoiled, selfish, over-indulged children that I’m not afraid I'll start giving in when I shouldn’t. When Ryan is a little older and I’m able to explain the concepts of “no” and “not right now” to him, it will be easier to refuse him things, and I’m sure I’ll do it much more often. But for now, he’s still relatively spoil-proof, so I plan on taking advantage of that and giving in to the puppy dog eyes whenever I can. It’ll keep us both happier.

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